Participants' robots get to work.

Cayman International School took first place at the Minds Inspired FIRST Tech Challenge interschool robotics competition, held Saturday at the Camana Bay Arts and Recreation Centre.

Nine teams from seven Grand Cayman high schools participated in the Star Wars ‘A Force For Change’-themed competition, known as ‘Skystone’. The event challenged students to imagine the cities of the future and design a robot that could overcome any obstacles that stand in the way of building a superstructure.

The competition served as a pre-qualifier for the Cayman National Robotics Team.

Kieran Finch from St Ignatius Beta Serious Robotics team at the Skystone Tech Challenge at the ARC in Camana Bay on Saturday. – Photo: Carolina Lopez

As part of the challenge, students were randomly grouped into alliances to compete against each other. Cayman International School and St. Ignatius each fielded two teams for the competition, bringing the total to nine entrants.

The team alliances were randomly generated by a computer programme. After competing in qualifiers, the teams moved into the semi-finals, where they were allowed to set up their own alliances.

Over the course of the evening, students from CIS, Cayman Prep and High School, Clifton Hunter High School, Grace Christian Academy, John Gray High School, St. Ignatius Catholic School, and Triple C School all had the opportunity to work together.

In the final round, the competition came down to teams from CIS and St. Ignatius. In a narrow victory, CIS claimed the Winning Alliance award, and also won the Innovation and Engineering Design Award.

Kieran Finch, a student from St. Ignatius and part of the robotics team called Beta Serious, said collaborating closely with teammates to learn from their past mistakes was part of their game plan for the challenge.

The challenge entailed robots moving blocks to a ‘building site’ and then assembling a structure.

“We decided that the best way to get points would be being able to stack high and being able to stack a capstone on top. That’s why we have a grabber and can easily grab the capstone,” Finch said, of his team’s efforts.

Students take part in the Minds Inspired robotics competition.

Finch was part of the group that won the Finalist Alliance Award, the Team Spirit Award, and the Inspire Award for technical excellence and the embodiment of ‘Gracious Professionalism’. He said his team divided their responsibilities early, and had started working on their robot back in July 2019.

“We have a list of all the teams, and we saw what their strengths and weaknesses are, and from there we base what we want to do, like who stacks or moves the bricks,” Finch said.

John Gray High School was given the Judges’ Award for its efforts throughout the challenge.

Last year, a team of 11 students representing different high schools travelled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to compete in the 2019 FIRST Global Challenge. FIRST is an acronym of ‘For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology’.

The location and theme for this year’s FIRST Global Challenge will be announced later this month, according to a Minds Inspired press release.

Schools that participated in ‘Skystone’’

  • Cayman International School (two teams)
  • Cayman Prep and High School
  • Clifton Hunter High School
  • Grace Christian Academy
  • John Gray High School
  • St. Ignatius Catholic School (two teams)
  • Triple C School

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